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Ireland football hero Alan McLoughlin dies at the age of 54

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Former Republic of Ireland international Alan McLoughlin. Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Former Republic of Ireland international Alan McLoughlin. Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Former Republic of Ireland international Alan McLoughlin. Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Former Ireland international Alan McLoughlin has passed away after a battle with illness at the age of 54.

McLoughlin was the scorer of one of the most iconic goals in the country's football history. His late strike in Belfast on a fiery night in November 1993 secured the draw against Northern Ireland that booked the Republic of Ireland's place in the following summer's World Cup finals.

The midfielder was a squad regular and bit-part player under Jack Charlton but that goal cemented his status as a pivotal figure of a golden era.

He hadn't figured in the qualifying campaign until that juncture, although he was included in every squad that he was available for.

"To be just involved in any way, shape or form was just wonderful for me," said McLoughlin in an 2018 interview with Vincent Hogan in this newspaper.

The 54-year-old grew up in an Irish family in Manchester and had a spell as a trainee with Manchester United but he really made his name as a player with Swindon and had a spell with Southampton (who signed him for £1m, which was a big fee in 1990) before a long stay at Portsmouth.

He wound down his career with brief spells at Wigan, Rochdale and Forest Green Rovers before moving into the coaching sphere, a route that brought him back to Swindon Town as the academy manager.

McLoughlin won 42 caps for Ireland and was a member of both the 1990 and 1994 World Cup squads, getting the nod for Italy ahead of Gary Waddock at the last moment.

In March, McLoughlin revealed he was battling renal cell carcinoma, a form of kidney cancer, announcing that he was about to undergo a course of radiotherapy treatment and a new course of medication.

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He is survived by his wife Deby and daughters Abby and Megan.


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